Fibroids are the most common solid pelvic tumor in women and occur in 20-25% of women by age 40. They range in size and shape and usually occur as multiple tumors. Most commonly they vary from the size of a walnut to a grapefruit. Uterine fibroids are benign and can be located throughout the uterus.
Fibroids are stimulated by estrogen or potent estrogen-like substances. We are not only exposed to our own production of estrogen, but to exogenous sources, estrogens found in our food and environment. Herbicides, pesticides, hormone injected meats and plastics can bind to the estrogen receptor and cause a fibroid to grow. Once a woman enters menopause the fibroids will stop growing at the least and often regress on their own due to the decrease in estrogen.
Common symptoms are heavy menstrual flow, bleeding between periods, painful intercourse, and fatigue and weakness as a result of anemia due to blood loss. Depending on the size and location, fibroids can cause pain in the upper thighs, back and/or pelvis, and exert pressure upon the bowels or the bladder. Not everyone may experiences symptoms. You may have fibroids and not know it. The only way to determine if you have fibroids is to have your doctor send you for a pelvic ultrasound. If the fibroids are large enough they may be palpated during your gynecological exam.
You can start treating fibroids by improving your diet. Avoid or decrease your intake of saturated fats, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, dairy and meats with hormones. Always wash your fruits and vegetables and try to buy organic when possible. It is important to avoid drinking water out of plastic bottles and microwaving your food in tupperware. Instead, drink your water out of a glass bottle and if you must use the microwave, cook the food in a glass container. The diet should also consist of high fiber, low fat, whole grains (brown rice, oats, buckwheat, millet, rye), ground flaxseeds, fresh fish, soy products and plenty of water. A high fiber diet will increase the elimination of the excess estrogen. Every woman should follow these recommendations whether they have fibroids or not. A decreased amount of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract coupled with an overgrowth of yeast can affect the liver’s ability to process hormones and the colon’s ability to eliminate estrogen as well. More thorough therpies may be recommended based on the individual’s overall case.
The goal of naturopathic treatment is to decrease the size of the fibroid or to keep it from growing further. The nutritional supplements and herbs will help to balance the female hormones, promote estrogen excretion from the body and stimulate the liver to break down the hormones more efficiently. Acupuncture is also effective at assisting in decreasing the size of fibroids.
An Estrogen Metabolite test provides information on two important metabolites of estrogen 2OH estrogens and 16OH estrogens. The 16OHE is a harsher form of estrogen responsible for stimulating the growth of the fibroid where the 2OHE is a weaker estrogen blocking harsher estrogens from having an affect. By doing a simple urine test we can determine which estrogen metabolite you are producing more of. The good news is that there are supplements to correct this imbalance if you have one. Once the individualized treatment plan is determined the size of the fibroids will be assessed through ultrasound every 4-6 months to monitor progress. Another test that can be done is the Organic Acid Test which assess if there is an overgrowth of yeast, bacteria, deficiency in B vitamins as well as other important metabolites.